My name is Jim Olson, and I was treated for prostate cancer with proton therapy in 2019.
After learning about my prostate cancer diagnosis, I had some decisions to make.
My younger brother, deceased for 20 years, had significantly reduced quality of life due to radiation treatment in the sites surrounding the cancer target. Seeing those deep ulcers that wouldn’t heal, the resulting colostomy bag, loss of mobility, and the impact it had on his young family created a desire in me to find a better way.
Years before the Oklahoma Proton Center was operating; an older and wiser friend flew from Oklahoma to California to receive proton therapy. This friend was treated with proton therapy for prostate cancer, and the treatment was a success even though the cost for treatment was significant. After finishing his treatments, my friend is still living and doing well in Oklahoma City today.
Interestingly, the urologist who identified potential cancer strongly recommended traditional radiation but did not resist when we decided to use Oklahoma Proton Center. I knew proton therapy would directly target my cancer, and my quality of life through the treatment process and years following would be less impacted. My wife and I found out our insurance would likely cover the treatment through phone research. The result was that the costs were completely covered. The preliminary tour through Oklahoma Proton Center solidified that I had made the right decision. My wife and I learned the inspirational story of how Oklahoma City became the sixth proton therapy treatment site in the nation. The Oklahoma staff has trained many of the other 36 sites and made us realize the best talent was 15 minutes from our front door in NW Oklahoma City. Oklahoma Proton Center had an incredible customer service approach and treated us like family. Our research showed that much of the “Cancer Fight” is mental and is improved with positivity, joy, and keeping the immune system in top fighting condition. Thus, when we toured and learned of the tremendous team and colleague support from Oklahoma Proton Center, we knew this was the best approach for us. Attending the weekly luncheons, learning of the relationship with the local hotels, the restaurant meetups, and seeing the victory ceremonies and coins confirmed that this was not for marketing; this was for the wellbeing and health of the patients being treated because the staff truly cared.
During the treatment, I faithfully went to treatment at 8:15 each day and then went on to work—no loss of energy or ability to carry on as usual. Following the conclusion of treatment, life has continued much as before; however, my family and I have been more aware, more grateful, and mindful of how precious life is. My follow-up PSA checks and appropriate medication have consistently improved numbers, further confirming that I made the right decision.
I consider the staff at Oklahoma Proton Center my friends. I’ll often stop by to greet them, get a bottle of water, and chat. I was also able to arrange, set up, and lead a tour of VillagesOKC friends through the center. VillagesOKC is about informing, educating, and empowering mature adults – 50+. We work to have a “neighborhood” where the individual is encouraged to make the best and wise decisions for himself after collecting information from trusted friends (virtual neighbors) and trusted businesses. Being an advocate for your own health is something VillagesOKC really strives to achieve.
Look, I know what the statistics are, what the averages are. I know what science has to say about my odds. But I have every intention of trying to skew those statistics as much as I can. I have too much to live for.
My family and I are continually grateful to tell this story and keep sharing it in the hope that others will be aware that this life-changing treatment option is right here in the great state of Oklahoma.